6 Important Things to Consider When You Choose Your First Sex Toy

If there’s one question I wish people would stop asking me, it’s “what’s the best sex toy?” I understand the reasoning behind this question, of course. When someone’s trying to choose their first sex toy, the options can be overwhelming.

Problem is, it’s the wrong question. Because the best sex toy for me won’t be the best toy for you!

To that end, here’s a quick guide to some of the important factors you should consider when you go toy shopping.

Choosing Your First Sex Toy

Buying a sex toy for the first time can be thrilling and nervewracking in equal measure. If you’ve never bought one before, how do you know if you’ll like something or not?

Unfortunately, there are no foolproof ways. But asking yourself these questions will help.

What kind of stimulation do you like?

Even if you’ve never used a toy before, you might have some idea of what kinds of stimulation you enjoy during partnered or solo sex.

Do you like intense clitoral stimulation? If so, a wand might do it for you. Do you like your sensations very pinpoint, very broad, or somewhere in between? Do you like deep penetration or shallow? Are you into length, girth, or both? And so on.

Use what you already know about your body to guide your choice.

What body part(s) do you want to use it on?

Most toys are designed with specific body parts in mind, but many can also be repurposed and used in different ways. Still, knowing which part(s) you’d like to stimulate will help you make a good choice.

Are you looking for internal (vaginal) stimulation, clitoral, or both? At the same time or separately? Do you want something to use on your penis? How do you feel about anal play? And so on.

If you’re not sure, choose a versatile toy. Many vibrators can be used both internally and externally. Dildos with a flared base are anal-safe as well as vaginal-safe.

What kind of play will it be used for?

I think you all know by now how I feel about the concept of “sex toys for couples”. (There’s no such thing! Anything is a couples’ toy if you use it with your partner!)

However, the kind of play you’ll use your toys for will have some bearing on what you choose. I absolutely love my wands. But I rarely use them during penetrative sex, because they’re just so hefty and it’s hard to fit them between bodies. If I want clitoral stimulation during vaginal or anal sex, I’m more likely to reach for my favourite bullet.

You might choose something different if you’re after a toy for solo play versus something to use with your partner. Again, you might not – but bear this in mind.

A selection of drawings of sex toys, for a post on choosing your first sex toy
Original artwork for Coffee & Kink by Charlotte Willcox

Where and when will you be using it?

Do you have children or roommates at home who you’re worried about disturbing? Does your house have thin walls? Discretion matters a great deal to some people, and not at all to others. Consider your living situation and privacy needs when you select a toy.

Do you like to masturbate in the bath or shower? If so, choose a waterproof toy. Will you be wanting to take your toy with you when you travel? In that case, something smaller or portable is a good bet. Do you regularly play in places like sex clubs where there might not be easy access to a power outlet? If so, rechargeable or battery powered is probably better than mains-powered.

What’s your budget?

This is the first question I ask people when they ask me for a sex toy recommendation, because toys vary wildly in price.

Fortunately, you can get good quality toys on a budget. So don’t let anyone tell you that you have to settle for unsafe crap if you can’t afford to drop three figures on a sex toy! This is simply not true and there are loads of manufacturers making awesome products that won’t break the bank.

Have a maximum budget, or at least a range, in mind before you go shopping.

Do aesthetics matter to you?

Some people have strong aesthetic preferences for their toys. For example, some are super turned on by a hyper-realistic dildo, while others find it offputting. Some like their toys in bright, vibrant colours. Some hate pink. Cuteness is appealing to some and cringy to others. And so on.

Do you have strong feelings on how you’d like your toy to look? You might not, and that’s okay! But if you do, pay attention to what you feel drawn to.

What next?

It’s literally impossible to recommend someone a sex toy without knowing quite a lot about their needs and preferences. The best advice I can give you is to do your research, read reviews, and get to know your body.

Then experiment and have fun!

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This post is part of my Sex Ed September series, where I’ll be sharing educational content all month long. Post contains affiliate links. All views, as always, are my own. If you find my work valuable, buying me a coffee help keeps the lights on at C&K HQ.

[Guest Blog] I Wish I Could Masturbate Like a Man by Holly Hughes

Today’s guest post comes from Holly Hughes, a writer and intuitive healer based in North Carolina.

I wish I could masturbate like a cis man. I imagine it’s super freeing to be able to lean back and knock out an orgasm. If nothing else, it must be a huge stress reliever. 

I’ve never even considered sitting at my office desk and pleasuring myself. Is it even possible? I mean, the way I need things to be set up – curtains drawn, door closed, pets out of the room, and privacy – there’s no way I believe I could give myself pleasure while seated on a vegan leather office chair. 

I didn’t own a vibrator until I was thirty. Sad but true. There I was, naïve in all things vibrating, and determined to get over it. I asked a friend to come with me to a sex store, so I’d be less intimidated. My friend had firsthand knowledge of the world of pleasure I was about to enter, and I felt safe exploring the black-lit sex shop with him.

As we crossed the threshold, my eyes first went to the cage, the bondage and leather on display. This was all much more daring than my skimpiest Victoria’s Secret lingerie. It was sexual in a way I hadn’t experienced. Some of the devices and apparatus made me giggle, others were appealing, and I wondered how I missed out on so much fun. 

The store’s staff were informative and helpful. I’m sure I looked like a newbie as my eyes ran over everything on display. Fortunately, the staff were happy to ease my nervous curiosities. One employee led me into a room farther back, where various sizes and shapes of vibrators were displayed. She demonstrated how to turn them on and the features that made each one unique. Some were curved, others had ridges, moving internal parts like beads, or multiple controls. She placed each one in my hands, allowing me to feel how hard or soft the silicone was. 

At this point in my life, the only penis that never failed to give me an orgasm (or several) belonged to my ex. When we were together, I used to jokingly plead with him to make a mold, so if we ever broke up, I could still have it. It was just the right length and had the most spectacular curve that never failed to hit my g-spot. Years later, I still wish I got that mold.

Back to the sex shop. After inspecting numerous vibrators of all sizes and shapes, I settled on a lavender rabbit. It had multiple speeds, and the color made it less intimidating. It remained in its box under my bed for months until one night when, alone in my room and feeling frisky, I decided to try it out.

I opened the box, added batteries, shut my cat out of the bedroom, and closed the door. Then I got naked, got under my covers, and turned the vibrator on. I was shocked at how loud it was. I tried muffling it under a pile of blankets. The noise was a complete turn off, and I was sure my neighbors would hear it through my thin apartment walls. Needless to say, there was no orgasm. I packed the rabbit back up and shoved it into my bedside table drawer.

Months later, I tried again. This time I ignored the fear of being heard masturbating and simply enjoyed the experience.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I’ve explored and discovered the type of lover-in-a-drawer that does it for me. Now the biggest hindrance to my ability to enjoy time with it is being a busy entrepreneur, mother, wife, friend, and author. The idea of a little stress relief is always appealing, but I still need to be left alone to enjoy my own devices. I have no doubt my husband doesn’t have the same issue. He’s able to just lean back in his office chair and pleasure himself. 

My typical self-love routine (and I really hate that it’s a routine, but it’s true) starts with digging out my vibrators from the drawer under my bed. I keep them safely hidden beneath an ugly holiday sweater and my old thermal underwear, just in case my daughter ever goes snooping in my belongings. I check to make sure the toys don’t need new batteries. I have one now that needs to be plugged in.

After I make sure I have privacy and a working instrument, I lay back and enjoy a favorite fantasy or two, mostly having to do with Taylor Kitsch or Benjamin Walker. And bam! Stress relief and orgasm are had.

But most times, things don’t go quite that smoothly. Today, for instance, I really wanted to relax before going to get my mammogram. My husband wasn’t home, and I had thirty minutes before I had to leave. So, I broke out my favorite toys. One had no charge, so I had to make do with my backup. I got comfortable and was about to begin when I heard moaning coming from next to the bed. Then I heard the thumping of my dog running up and jumping onto the bed to snuggle next to me. 

“No,” I said. “Get out.”

He looked at me with his big brown puppy-dog eyes and refused to move. Now naked, I picked him up and put him on the other side of my closed bedroom door. 

Before I even made it back to enjoy any sensation of pleasure, I heard a meow, meow, meow. Our kitten was on the other side of the door. 

This was the first time I ever wished my vibrator was louder and could say things like, “Don’t pay attention to the cat. You’re so sexy. You feel so good.” But I couldn’t make my mind tune out the cat meowing or the dog scratching, so I yelled, “Shut up!” Nothing like pets to ruin the mood. 

It’s not as if I get this chance for alone time often. And honestly, when I do, I worry about my husband walking in. Not that he’d mind at all, it’s more about wanting to be left alone to enjoy myself without anyone watching or participating. Isn’t that what masturbating is all about? Self-pleasure? I know my man doesn’t have the same needs or issues, or even gives any more thought to masturbating than, yeah, now’s a good time. No need for soft lighting or routine.  I wish I could masturbate like him.

I imagine many cis men can rub one out in a minute or two, but my body doesn’t work like that. And there are times when I know that, no matter what I do, my orgasm won’t come. That even though I know how to pleasure myself, my body won’t cooperate. This happened to me after the birth of my child, and was especially true after my hysterectomy. I felt like Samantha from Sex and the City, wondering if I’d used all my orgasms up.

Thankfully, of course, that wasn’t true. But it did take me longer than I care to admit to enjoy sex again after both of those life-altering events. My insides felt so different. I felt the changes acutely and I was afraid my husband wouldn’t like them and would find me less desirable. I’m thankful to my sex toys for helping me heal and find my pleasure again. 

But there are always days like today when I think it would be nice to sneak off and not have so many obstacles to masturbating. I imagine, like peeing standing up, there are advantages to masturbating while sitting up in an office chair with the lights on and the dog laying by your feet. As for me, I’ll be waiting for a quiet and private moment to pleasure myself with my always ready boyfriend-in-a-drawer.

Holly is a freelance writer and intuitive healer living in North Carolina. When she isn’t working you can find her getting ready for Halloween or dancing. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram!

My First Sex Toys

This was supposed to be a quick one, written on Sunday while waiting for Mr CK to get ready for our favourite twice-yearly kink event. But it ended up getting long, then I ended up getting busy, so here it is several days late.

Thought it would be fun to share with you the first five sex toys I ever owned, what I think of them with the knowledge I have now… and what I might recommend instead.

Toy #1: Tracey Cox Supersex Bullet Vibrator

The Supersex Bullet vibe, for a post about my first five sex toysAt 18 and having just moved into my own place with a boyfriend, I rushed to buy my first Actual Sex Toy, to replace the trusty electric toothbruth I’d been using until that point. Having very little money and no clue what to buy, I went for a cheap and cheerful bullet vibe. At the time, it was fine. I wasn’t quite the power queen I am today, and the toy was small enough that it didn’t threaten my boyfriend’s fragile masculinity.

Would I recommend it? Meh. I wouldn’t say “don’t go anywhere near”. It’s cheap, was pretty reliable (lasted damn near five years before it finally died as I recall,) and being made of hard plastic it’s body safe and easy to clean. But it’s also single-speed and the vibes were kinda buzzy and weak. But as a first toy, to establish that vibrating sensations were something I enjoyed, well… meet my gateway drug.

Buy this instead: We-Vibe Tango (reviewed by me here) or Lovehoney Desire Luxury Bullet are both highly recommended, very popular and body-safe bullet vibes. The Tango is slightly stronger and rumblier. The Desire is softer if hard plastic feels too harsh for your sensitive areas. Choose according to your preferences.

Toy #2: Some vile jelly monstrosity from Ann Summers

Emboldened by my new-found sexual bravery, or so I thought (LOL, 19 year old Amy was adorable) I dragged my boyfriend into Ann Summers on my 19th birthday trip to London to buy myself a new toy. Too intimidated to ask for help, I ended up with a purple jelly-rubber toy with pathetically weak vibrations. I don’t think I used it more than 3 times. I can’t find the exact model on their site any more, but this isn’t a million miles away.

Would I recommend it? FUCK NO. Please don’t buy anything made of jelly rubber, it’s toxic and porous and really, really bad for your body. Also, Ann Summers are trash – they normalise toxic products, they cater to a cishet male-gaze version of sexuality, and they operate a deeply predatory MLM arm. Try Lovehoney, SheVibe or your local women-owned sex shop instead.

Buy this instead: If you’re after an affordable, simple G-spot stimulator, try the Luxe Purity by Blush or the Annabelle Knight G-spot vibrator.

Toy #3: Icicles No.5 Sapphire Spiral Glass Dildo

Icicles Number 5 dildo, for a post on my first five sex toysThis was an impulse buy at the BBB – they were just so pretty I couldn’t resist, and I’d never tried a glass toy before. On first use I wasn’t sure I liked it. Glass is colder and more rigid than anything I’d previously used. Once I’d got used to the sensation, though, I found that using it very gently (think “insert and just barely wiggle it,” no hard thrusting here) gave me the most glorious G-spot orgasms. Alas this particular toy met its end when a clumsy photographer dropped it but I’ve been in love with glass toys ever since.

Would I recommend it? I recommend glass dildos heartily. HOWEVER…

…Note, added on 22/10/2017: Icicles are owned by Pipedream, who I have come to learn are kinda fucking terrible. If you don’t want to support them (and I urge you to think seriously before you do,) Lovehoney’s own brand glass toys are at least equal in quality and value.

Toy #4: Doc Johnson Junior Veined Double Ended Dildo

I won this one in a raffle at a Simply Pleasure open evening event. It amused me more than anything, and at 22 I was still bashful enough to shove it in my bag with a blush and hope I didn’t have an accident on my cycle home. I tried it exactly once with my girlfriend, before it went to languish, forgotten, at the bottom of a box until I threw it out some three years later.

Would I recommend it? No. It smelled weird (think “new car” meets “latex” only more chemically). The texture was sticky and gross, sure signs of a questionable and potentially toxic material. It’s described on the website as “body safe” but Doc Johnson products have been found in lab tests to contain phthalates, and their “sil-a-gel” additive seems to be a mystery material of their own invention. In other words, this toy – and many of Doc Johnson’s other products – are mainly PVC and therefore porous as fuck and toxic.

Buy this instead: For a body-safe double-ended dildo, try the Dorcel Real Double Do.  If you’re looking for a “strapless strap on” experience, the Feeldoe is a classic for a reason.

Toy #5: Off-Brand “Magic Wand” Knockoff

I bought a cheap (ish) poor knock-off of the Original Magic Wand before I realised they’re not sold in the UK. Unfortunately, fakes abound and many of them are egregiously labelled as the real thing. It gave me some good orgasms for a few months but ultimately, got less and less powerful with each use until it completely gave up and died after perhaps 6-9 months.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely not. Buying knock-offs means it is almost impossible to get accurate information available on the toy’s material. They’re almost certainly not body-safe (and may not even be properly safe electrically, come to that.) The quality of most fakes is shocking and they tend to break quickly.

Buy this instead: The Magic Wand Rechargeable, or my all-time favourite, the Doxy Massager.

This post contains affiliate links and if you buy from one of them, I may make a small commission. This will never affect my views on the products, which are and will always be my own.

Ask Amy #2: “First Visit to a Sex Shop”

I love today’s question because I remember being in this reader’s position not all that many years ago. Sex shops can feel intimidating when you’ve never been in one before. We’ve all been the nervous first-timer at some point.

“How do I behave at a sex shop!?”

“Hi Amy,

Hope you don’t think this is a stupid question! I’m a 35 year old mother and I’m recently single after coming out of a 12 year marriage. My ex husband was super vanilla but now that I’m on my own I want to try using sex toys. I’ve heard that it’s much better to go to a shop rather than buy online so that you can see and feel the toys before choosing one, but my secret is I’ve never been in a sex shop before! I don’t know what to expect or how to behave. Can I ask questions? Will the staff think it’s really weird that I’m a mum in my mid 30s who hasn’t ever used a vibrator before? Any advice would be really helpful.”

– Nervous Newbie

Hey Nervous! What a great question. It’s not at all weird. Loads of people have never been to a sex shop and are nervous at the idea. Firstly, congratulations on deciding you want to explore your sexuality more after finding yourself single. That’s a great gift you can give yourself which will improve both your solo sex life and any partnered sex you might have in the future.

Visiting a sex shop really doesn’t need to be scary. Promise! There’s just a few things you need to know to make your visit as smooth and – yes – enjoyable as possible.

First, research and pick a reputable store. As you’re in London, I can’t recommend better than the utterly wonderful Sh! Women’s Store. There’s also Coco De Mer, which is a real treat to visit but extremely high-end – basically the Prada of sex shops, with price tags to match. Any woman-owned and run, independent sex shop is likely to be better than a mainstream chain store. It’s honestly worth traveling to get to a really good store and there are a few in the major cities throughout the country. (If you must go to a chain store, Simply Pleasure isn’t bad but sadly they sell a lot of toxic and porous toys in amongst the good stuff, so do your research first.)

What you’ll find at a good store is a friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental environment. The staff typically choose to work in these shops because they’re sex positive and passionate about sexual pleasure and health. I’ve never met a sex shop worker for whom it was “just a retail gig.” I absolutely promise you the staff won’t think you’re weird for having never bought toys before, so feel free to say “I’m new to toys and looking for something to start with.”

So, ask questions! Ask for advice! (Not “what’s your favourite?” which is not only invasive but also a redundant question as all bodies are different. Think more along the lines of, “what’s a good anal toy for a beginner?” “I like strong vibrations with variable patterns, what do you recommend?” “I’m looking for an insertable toy that’s not too rigid.”)

On that note: think about what you might like to get before you go in. Are you more interested in vaginal penetration, clitoral stimulation, or a mix? What about anal? Think about what you want to experiment with, what your body likes and doesn’t like, and – very important – how much you want to spend. If you can afford it, it’s worth spending a bit more to get a really good toy that’s well-made, body safe and from a reputable manufacturer.

Please read up on materials and get something that’s body-safe and non porous. Dangerous Lilly has a tonne of valuable advice on safe toys. It’s okay not to know exactly what you’re looking for (that’s partly why you ask for advice!) but having at least a general knowledge of how your pleasure works is a good starting point. (I think I need to do a whole post on picking out your first sex toy.)

Don’t be afraid to pick things up and play with them (in your hand, not your pants, obviously!) The vast majority of shops will have a sample of each toy out of the box so you can feel it, test the vibrations for strength, see how you like the materials against your skin etc. Play as much as you like. Take your time. A good retailer won’t hurry you.

As far as any other etiquette, it’s all super obvious. Don’t hit on the staff – they probably love the job but they’re also at work and no-one wants to field unwanted come-ons at work. Don’t ask the staff personal questions about their own sex life or toy use. Keep your clothes on. Don’t test anything out on your genitals. Don’t be weird or judgy about toys or sex acts that aren’t your thing. (Think, for example, “I don’t think what would do it for me,” rather than “ewwww, why would anyone do that?”) Honestly, it’s no more complicated than being respectful, polite and behaving in ways that are generally acceptable in a public space, albeit one where it’s totally okay – encouraged! – to have frank conversations about sexuality.

One final pro tip: if you’re nervous, try going at a time when it’s likely to be quieter. Mornings are typically quieter than afternoons/evenings, and weekdays are quieter than weekends. This way the staff are likely to have more time to devote to you and you won’t feel so self-conscious examining the toys in front of other shoppers.

Good luck!

Dear readers! If you’d like me to answer your question, get in touch and I’ll tackle your issue on the blog – completely anonymously of course.

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